Twin Names: One Berry’s Top Picks

Twin names pose special challenges and special pleasures, for the namer and name enthusiast alike. Here, Nameberry intern and guest blogger Hannah Tenison chooses her favorite twin pairs and tells us why they work so well.

Since the days of Ancient Rome and Greece, when the stories of Remus and Romulus and Castor and Pollux circulated among the public, twins have been a source of intrigue; but when MaryKate and Ashley burst onto the screen in the 80s sitcom “Full House” as the lovable Michelle, they became positively marketable.

The Olsen twins gave way to “The Parent Trap,” starring Lindsay Lohan as twins Hallie and Annie; Tia and Tamera Mowry, who starred in the 90’s Disney show “Sister, Sister,” and later, Dylan and Cole Sprouse in “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” There’s “Harry Potter”’s Fred and George Weasley as well as Padma and Parvati Patil, along with “A Series of Unfortunate Events’” Duncan and Isadora Quagmire, and in music, there’s the duo Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte, and indie pair Tegan and Sara.

But of course, the most interesting thing about twins is their names – at least from a name nerd’s perspective. Here, a list of my personal favorite twin name pairs, from starbabies to royalty, and why I think they work well together.

Thornton and Theophilus Wilder (Thornton wrote the play “Our Town”): Unusual, distinguished, and somewhat stodgy, these names sound old-world cool, and the shared “th” sound makes them similar without taking it over the top. I like that Thornton, whose unfussy surname vibe couldn’t be more different from the antiquated sound of Theophilus, still manages to sound like the latter’s twin.

Vivian and Marian Brown, “The San Francisco Twins”: This lively octogenarian sister pair live in San Francisco, where their identical looks and outfits have earned them local celebrity status. These names are both old-fashioned cool, and their same three-letter ending creates a vivacious rhythm that marries them perfectly together and is a subtler form of connection than a shared first initial. I think the best part about the names, however, is that they each have a unique feel, while sounding so similar. Vivian is spunky, even “vivacious,” while Marian reminds me of Maid Marian from “Robin Hood” : a calm, collected beauty.

Eva and Joy Green (Eva plays Vesper in “Casino Royale”): A complimentary meaning theme – life and happiness –, these two names are short, sweet, and classic without being overexposed. The only aspect of the pair that doesn’t appeal to me is that super short Joy seems almost insubstantial next to gorgeous, Biblical Eva.

Matteo and Valentino Martin (Ricky Martin): Unmistakably Latin, handsome, and ‘o’-so-catchy, these names share a romantic flair. But is it too much romance for two boys? I almost wish it were Matteo and Vance, or Matteo and Vincent, or something along those lines: I feel like a strong name is needed to either ground Matteo or Valentino.

Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip (Jerry O’Connell and Rebecca Romijn): This set is near perfection. Both first names are retro nicknames, the second name is a three syllable classic derived from the Bible, and the third name, a flower. A lovely way to match twins without being obnoxious.

Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James (Elvis Costello and Diana Krall): Dexter and Frank are cool enough, sharing a certain bluesy feel, but then we add the second and third names for each twin, and we’ve got downright hip: Henry Lorcan combines a chic classic with a little known Irish name; Harlan James sounds like a jazz musician, appropriate for the son of two musicians. Together, these names “rock.”

Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia (Julia Roberts): Antiquated Phinnaeus and vintage Hazel fit well together, managing to sound grownup without taking themselves too seriously. Middle names Walter and Patricia match equally well. I do wish that Hazel had a noticeably antique name to go with Phinnaeus, however. Yes, Patricia is an ancient name, but it doesn’t have an antique sound like Phinnaeus. Hazel Euphemia would be my pick, or Hazel Parthenia.

Vincent and Josephine, infant Prince and Princess of Denmark: This pair shares elegance and distinction; together, they sound refined and regal, perfect for a royal set. The royal babies’ full names are Vincent Frederik Minik Alexander and Josephine Sophia Ivalo Mathilda. Mathilda honors her mother’s native Australia, while Minik and Ivalo are Greenlandic names, a nod to Denmark’s independent territory of Greenland.

Nameberry intern Hannah Tenison is a student at the University of Michigan, with a double major in English and German. She is currently completing an internship near Munich, Germany, where she works in translations. After graduation, Hannah plans to study international journalism. She blogs about names and life in Germany at http://themoonisntshining.blogspot.com

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22 Responses to “Twin Names: One Berry’s Top Picks”

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KylaMac Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 8:21 am

Twin names are fascinating and Mary Kate/Ashley were/are a very famous set (who I watched all the time growing up) and a marketing force with which to be reckoned. However, the success of the Parent Trap can hardly be given credit to them as the Lindsay Lohan version is a remake of a fairly successful 1961 film starring Hayley Mills.

Lola Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 9:00 am

I’m not a fan of Jerry O’Connell’s girls, myself. Dolly & Charlie feel too cutsey now and prrobably be ridiculous when they’re 50!

Elvis Costello’s boys are fantastic, I just it was Dexter Henry Lorcan & Francis Harlan James, nn’d Dex & Frank. Frank Harlan James bothers me, rhythm-wise.

As the mother of 25 year old twin boys, Leo & Simon, I was only worrying about honoring family equally with both boys,and not thinking “cohesive sibset”, but I think they sound pretty great together.

Nyx Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Reading about Vivian and Marian made me wonder who the twins were on the current Walgreens pharmacy flu-shot commercial. After a quick google search, I found that they also have lovely names: Iris and Frances. – http://www.northjersey.com/arts_entertainment/131437503_TV_ad_puts_twin_sisters__77__in_spotlight.html

Nyx Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

@Lola: Leo and Simon are a great sibset and do work beautifully for twins 🙂 Another great plus (just my opinion here), the names weren’t trending popular then!

i.heart.nerds Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I wish Dolly and Charlie were actually Dorothy and Charlotte. That would make it even better.
I have twin cousins named Sarah Margaret Jane and Nathaniel Steven Joseph. They go by Sadie and Nate. I think they match well together.
I also have twin niece and nephew named Emily Grace and Aidan Jack….which I am not nearly as in live with lol.

C in DC Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Ugh. Matching first letters. Rhyming names. Most of these just leave me cold. The b/g sets are the most palatable. More interesting are the names Mary-Kate and Ashley: not matchy at all. I know a number of twins where dad picked one name and mom the other (or something along those lines), which means the twins end up with wildly different names.

lemon Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 2:36 pm

As a twin, I take twin-naming pretty seriously. I don’t think my sister and I have particularly well-matched names. Lola, your Leo and Simon are divine together!

Some of these sets don’t really hit it out of the park for me. In particular, Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip? First, Dolly and Charlie are too nickname-y for my taste, but Dolly is oh-so-feminine and Charlie is unisex! Dolly and Sadie? That would be better. My favorites on this list are Dexter and Frank, both equally chic and classic-cool.

My favorites? The Weasley boys in real life are James and Oliver – the ultimate in British classic handsome! A set of Brit teen twins active on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody are Camilla “Milly” and Rebecca “Becky” in real life. Twin criminals, Ursula and Sabina Eriksson, have quirky feminine Swedish-type names that match without being matched. And, I actually love Benji and Joel Madden (Benjamin Levi and Joel Rueben) as a set! Twins in the French royal family, Jacques and Michel, are a nice, sturdy match for two boys. Rowers from New Zealand, Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell, have appropriately-coordinating classic, feminine, sophisticated names. And, ever wonder where Alanis Morissette came up with son Ever Imre’s middle name? She got it from her own twin brother, Wade Imre!

Oh, and I should include some of my favorite celebrity baby twin names – Marion Loretta Elwell and Tabitha Hodge (Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick) and John David and Lucy Elizabeth (Nancy Grace and David Linch) – the first set is vintage and surname mixed to perfection and the second set is classic (though slightly uninspired) at its best!

GidgetMom Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

My 1 year old twins are Annie and Joseph. Annie is really Anne but goes exclusively by Annie. They are both family names but my only criteria was that we choose old fashioned names that did not begin with the same letter. I dislike matchy twin names.

jgirl525 Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 4:09 pm

@ lemon–except for Vincent & Josephine (so well suited to their station and each other), I prefer all the twin sets you list to the ones in the blog! And totally agree about Dolly & Charlie. Actually, I think that twin set is one of the worst naming travesties I’ve heard. Ick. Vivian and Marian seem total opposites–I can’t stop thinking of “Marian, madame librarian…” @Nyx: I also love Iris & Frances. What a happy ending to your question.

moxielove Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 4:26 pm

My faves are by far Vincent and Josephine.

I truly truly dislike the Romjin-O’Connell twins’ names. Definitely obnoxious!

I grew up going to school with a twin set Brigid and Claire. Always thought that worked well together.

Cclb119 Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 6:10 pm

My own daughter has so many twins at her school, many with lovely names:
Grace & Charles (gracie and charlie)
Very classic, go well together, and the nicknames work too
James Francis & Clarissa Grace (frankie & gracie)
cute how they both use mid names, a little quirky maybe but nice
Eleanor & William (ellie & will)
classic popular names with fitting nicknames, like gracie and charlie
Jacqueline & Michael
has a little bit of a 90’s ring to it, but nice together
Anna & Lily
I absolutely luv this!! Both the same length, they accent each other perfectly
Elizabeth (liza) & Connor
Classic and modern, but Liza makes it work amazingly

shinysarah11 Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I think Dolly and Charlie are sentimental names. Dolly Parton is one of Rebecca Romijn’s idols and Jerry OConnell’s brother is named Charlie. But I think the longer names would have better for more options.

But as a twin myself, I think any name combination that doesn’t rhyme is good. My sister and I are Sarah Elizabeth and Laura Christine. I’m glad my sisty wasn’t Marah or Karah or something like that. Twins have a hard enough time being unique without having rhyming or too similar names. I grew up as “the girls” or “the twins”, so different, interesting names are a must for forming an identity.

As a side note: My father is also a twin, but my grandmother obviously had no nameberry.com in 1947 because she named my dad and uncle Donald and Ronald. Talk about cruel!!!

lemon Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 8:07 pm

@shinysarah11

So funny that you and your sister are Sarah and Laura! I’m Lauren, and my twin sister is Sarah – yea, we’re “the girls” to my parents and “the twins” to my grandparents. Ugh! My mom’s twin cousins are Gary and Larry and my mom’s grandma and her twin brother were Esther and Lester! My grandma wanted my name to be Cara, which obviously rhymes with Sarah. Yuck! I recently discovered a set of twins far back in my family tree – Jonathan Lewis and Boyd Sevier.

gabby1 Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Twins sets I know are

Jackson and Nathan ( Jack and Nate)

Abby and Riley – nicknames go well together but Abigail sounds much more formal than Riley.

Kingsley and Kensington – boy/girl

linzybindi Says:

October 11th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Thornton and Theophilus Wilder – Love the nickname Theo…not really a fan of the idea of Thorn.

Vivian and Marian Brown – Sounds too matchy.

Eva and Joy Green – cute!

Matteo and Valentino Martin – too much “o” going on here!

Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip – I really cannot stand this combo. I agree Dorothy and Charlotte would be much better.

Dexter Henry Lorcan and Frank Harlan James – I really like this combo.

Phinnaeus Walter and Hazel Patricia – Phinnaeus is such a rough spelling of this name. It kind of drives me nuts. Hazel Patricia is nice…I know Patricia is after someone that was special to her. As was Walter.

Vincent and Josephine – wonderful twin set!

Some twins I’ve known…
Susan and Rebecca
Emmalee and Graceanne
Liam and Sean
Maddie and Macey
Jacob and Jonathan (I know 2 sets named this)

Triplets
Hannah, Rachel and Sarah

arianabelinda Says:

March 13th, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Agree that Dolly & Charlie don’t make sense. Sorry celebs!
I like most of the others.
I know twins in their 30s named Lisa & Lori and Denise & Diana. I like the names, but I can see how it can create an identity crisis.
I know matchy is out of fashion now. My friend just named her twins Sophie & Ella, and my other friend is prego with g/g twins!
Love the post!

notcinnamon Says:

May 3rd, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Must add a nod to Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan for having great twin girl names IMO- Aquinnah Kathleen and Schuyler Frances 🙂
And kudos to my BFF for naming her twin girls Clare Frances and India Margaret!

Lunaaah Says:

May 10th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I’m from Denmark, and I was so disappointed when the danish prince and princess were named Vincent and Josephine. I really dislike the names in Danish, but they’re okay in English. They do match the names of their older siblings, Christian and Isabella, really well though.

At my school there’s twins called Francisco and Freuland (or something like that haha…) but everyone calls them Fran and Freu. I find the names pretty funny. Mostly Freuland though. I’ve never met anyone else with that name.

emzz1029 Says:

May 14th, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I have a twin brother. My full name is Emilia (pronounced Amelia) an go by Emi (a less common version of Emmy). My brother’s name is Samuel (or Sam for short). We both have family middle names. I don’t think our parents took into consideration meaning but both found the names nice 🙂 Shows you that twin names don’t need to be overdown to be nice, right?

kadibug06 Says:

September 13th, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I’d love to have twins Henry Todd and Hazel Lorraine. Not super matchy matchy, but I like the matching initial. For girls it would be Autumn Rachelle and Clarissa Fern. Boys would be Todd Albert and Jasper Mark. The only twins I know are my aunt and uncle – Jennifer and Timothy (Jenn and Tim). 🙂

kmouser1 Says:

January 2nd, 2013 at 3:49 am

I dislike twin names that start with the same letter or begin or end with the same sound, it’s too cutsey for me, or like you’re trying too hard. I know a Caroline and Julia and an Emily and Sara that go well together. I haven’t put a ton of thought into twin names, but I think as long as you don’t pair two names from the opposite ends of the spectrum, can you really go wrong?

hollyannabell Says:

May 21st, 2014 at 11:23 am

I have a twin sister. She is called Lydia and my name is Holly. We’ve been called Holly and Lydia so much my little sister called us Hollia as she couldn’t tell the names apart. Holly and Lydia go well together, we are non identical and people have never got our names confused. I know a pair of identical twins called Nicole and Natasha which is just too similar especially as their mother’s called Nicola. They unfortunately get pointed at and called twinny.

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